Chickasaw neighborhood sharing its history through a book

There are many ways to celebrate Black History month. Our WAVE News team is doing its best to share as many African American stories, triumphs, struggles and he
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 6:44 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - There are many ways to celebrate Black History month. Our WAVE News team is doing its best to share as many African American stories, triumphs, struggles and heroes as we can.

A group of people who grew up in the Chickasaw neighborhood decided to share their families’ histories by not just sharing them in conversation, but by documenting that legacy in a book.

The Chickasaw Book Project Committee is a handful of neighbors who one day while laughing and talking together stopped right in their tracks and said someone should write a book about all this.

That old saying came to mind when they wondered who would do it, “If not you then who?”

Now with the support of the Filson Historical Society and others in the city their dream has almost come to life and to print.

“We’ve got to tell our story,” the co-chair of the book project committee and former Metro Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton said.

In the black experience oral traditions have often been the memory of its people. The words have been its documents.

“We wanna make sure we have your stories too,” Hamilton said.

Now a small group of Louisvillians from the city’s west end have decided not only to continue to share the stories of their neighborhood proudly and loudly but to publish them in a book.

“We became who we became because of our parents and the fact that they made the Chickasaw Neighborhood a place we could become whatever,” Rhonda Ramsey Finney, a resident whose father owned a local west end dry cleaners said. “The sky was the limit.”

During a time, society did it’s best to limit most things in their lives as African American families.

“People think about the 9th street divide,” Hamilton said. “Well, there was a Greenwood Avenue divide. Blacks couldn’t live on the south side of Greenwood Ave. at the Parkway.”

Samuel Plato, an African American architect and building contractor sued and won for the right to build about 88 two-bedroom homes in the 1940′s and 1950′s establish the city’s Westover subdivision.

Tom Kallay, son of WAVE News sportscaster Ed Kallay, remembers his family’s home in west Louisville.

”The Chickasaw neighborhood was not integrated when we moved in,” Kallay said. “By the early 1960′s that was changing. Lotta white folks that lived in the Chickasaw neighborhood they began to move, and we didn’t.”

THE CHICKASAW BOOK PROJECT: A DIALOGUE OF SHARED MEMORIES will be filled with the reflections and voices from those who lived, learned, shared, worked and grew up in the area.

“To grow up in the west end to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually in that neighborhood I was blessed,” Kallay said. “My family was blessed.”

Kip Mackey is a team member committed to working on neighborhood landmarks and all the significant places and people of Chickasaw. His mother was one of the well-known prominent teachers at Virginia Avenue Elementary School.

“For the Chickasaw community there are all kinds of people who made one strong community,” Mackey said.

“You gotta know the history,” Hamilton said. “We’re finally telling our story.”

The coffee table book will be filled with firsthand stories and photos. The deadline to add your family’s history in the Chickasaw neighborhood is February 28th.

For questions or to share pictures of information email

Chickasaw Book Committee:

  • Cheri Bryant Hamilton, Co-Chair
  • Leborah Goodwin, Co-Chair
  • Elmer Lucille Allen
  • Clinton Bennett
  • James Bennett
  • Carol Bottoms
  • Chamel Easton
  • Myra Friend Ellis
  • Claudia Smiley Geurin
  • Reginald Glass
  • David Kimbrough
  • Kip Mackey
  • Lynn McCrary
  • Marsha Moorman
  • Rhonda Ramsey Finney
  • Susan Hurd Rhodes
  • Ralph Shelburne
  • Donovan Taylor
  • DeVon Duncan Turner